The U.S. Supreme Court last week acted to keep Texas' 19 abortion clinics open, amid a legal fight that threatens to close more than half of them.
The justices voted 5-4 to grant an emergency appeal from the clinics, after a federal appeals court upheld new clinic regulations and refused to keep them on hold while the clinics appealed to the Supreme Court.
The high court's order will remain in effect at least until the court decides whether to hear the clinics' appeal of the lower court ruling, not before the fall. The court's decision to block the regulations is a strong indication that the justices will hear the full appeal, which could be the biggest abortion case in the Supreme Court in nearly 25 years.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have allowed the state to move ahead with regulations requiring abortion facilities to be constructed like surgical centers. Doctors at all clinics also would be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a requirement already in effect in much of the state.
The clinics said enforcing those new regulations would lead to a second major wave of clinic closures statewide since the law was enacted in 2013. Texas had 41 abortion clinics in 2012; 19 remain. —Associated Press